"My Life Has Been Just Like a Big Expectation" A Retrospective Reflection of Role Expectations and Mental Health Concerns of Adult Children of Seventh-day Adventist Pastors

Main Article Content

Rene Drumm
David Sedlacek
Alina Baltazar


Congregational social work; pastors' kids, clergy children, mental health, emotional health, social role expectations


This study examines the family and social expectations of Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) clergy children, their mental and emotional health concerns, and the relationship between expectations and emotional health. The study used data triangulation from an online survey (N=120) and four focus groups to answer the research questions. The greatest source of concern came from clergy children’s perceptions about was how the people in their parent’s congregation thought they should behave. In addition, results show that the majority of the respondents expressed some level of concern about anxiety/depression or their emotional health. The findings reveal a statistically significant relationship between the expectations that clergy children recalled and the mental and emotional concerns they experienced. Clergy children expected to attend more church services, reported more concerns about their mental and emotional health. These findings provide a call to action for Christian social workers, particularly those engaged in congregational social work.

Abstract 38 |


Adventist. (2018). Living Christian behavior. Retrieved from: https://www.adventist.org/en/beliefs/living/christian-behavior/.

American College Health Association. (2018). American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II: Reference Group Executive Summary Fall 2017. Hanover, MD: American College Health Association.

Allman, T. J. (2007). An analysis of the stereotypes of preacher's kids and its application on their spouses.

Anderson, C. B. (1998). The experience of growing up in a minister's home and the religious commitment of the adult child of a minister. Pastoral Psychology, 46(6), 393-411.

Bledsoe, S., Setterlund, K., Adams, C., & Connolly, M. (2013). Promoting emotional well-being among Southern California parishioners through clergy/mental health practitioner collaboration. Social Work and Christianity, 40(1), pp. 23-45.

Dancy, B. J. (2018). Examining identity in children of clergy. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering. ProQuest Information & Learning. Retrieved from http://lynx.lib.usm.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=psyh&AN=2017-43829-090&site=ehost-live.

Darling, C. A., McWey, L. M., & Hill, E. W. (2006). The paradox of children in clergy families. Journal of Family Issues, 27(4), 439-463.

Darling, C. A., Hill, E. W., & McWey, L. M. (2004). Understanding stress and quality of life for clergy and clergy spouses. Stress and Health, 20(5), 261-277.

Delaney, J. J., & Winters, J. V. (2014). Sinners or saints? Preachers' kids and risky health behaviors. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 35(4), 464-476.

Drumm, R., Cooper, L., Seifert, M., McBride, D.C., & Sedlacek, D. (2017). "Love everybody, keep your mouth shut, don't have an opinion": Role Expectations among Seventh-day Adventist pastor spouses. Social Work & Christianity, 44(3), 94-114.

Dudley, R. L., McBride, D. C., & Hernandez, E. I. (1997). Dissenting sect or evangelical denomination: The tension within Seventh-day Adventism. Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion, 8, 95-96.

Finch, J. (1980). Devising conventional performances: The case of clergymen's wives. Sociological Review, 28(4), 851-870. doi:10.1111/1467-954X.ep5462525

Garland, D. R., & Yancey, G. I. (2014). Congregational social work. North American Association of Christians in Social Work: Botsford, CT.

Heck, A., Drumm, R. D., McBride, D.C., & Sedlacek, D. (2017). Seventh-day Adventist clergy: Understanding stressors and coping mechanisms. Review of Religious Research, 0(0), 1-18. doi: 10.1007/s13644-017-0312-7

Hill, E. W., Darling, C. A., & Raimondi, N. M. (2003). Understanding boundary-related stress in clergy families. Marriage & Family Review, 35(1-2), 147-166.

Jacobson, J. M., Rothschild, A., Mirza, F., & Shapiro, M. (2013). Risk for burnout and compassion fatigue and potential for compassion satisfaction among clergy: Implications for social work and religious organizations. Journal of Social Service Research, 39(4), 455-468. doi: 10.1080/01488376.2012.744627

Lee, C. (1992). PK: Helping pastors' kids through their identity crisis. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Lee, C. (2007). Patterns of stress and support among Adventist clergy: Do pastors and their spouses differ? Pastoral Psychology, 55(6), 761-771. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-007-0086-x

Lee, C., & Iverson‐Gilbert, J. (2003). Demand, support, and perception in family‐related stress among Protestant clergy. Family Relations, 52(3), 249-257.

Lincoln, Y., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Beverly Hills: Sage.

Miller, A. S., & Hoffmann, J. P. (1995). Risk and religion: An explanation of gender differences in religiosity. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 63-75.

Miner, M. H. (2007). Changes in burnout over the first 12 months in ministry: Links with stress and orientation to ministry. Mental Health, Religion & Culture 10(1):9-16.

Morris, M. L., & Blanton, P. W. (1994). The influence of work-related stressors on clergy husbands and their wives. Family Relations, 43(2), 189-195. doi:10.2307/585322

Morris, M. L., & Blanton, P. W. (1995). The availability and importance of denominational support services as perceived by clergy husbands and their wives. Pastoral Psychology, 44(1), 29-44. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02251434

Morris, M. L., & Blanton, P. W. (1998). Predictors of family functioning among clergy and spouses: Influences of social context and perceptions of work-related stressors. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 7(1), 27-41.

Murphy-Geiss, G. E. (2011). Married to the minister: The status of the clergy spouse as part of a two-person single career. Journal of Family Issues, 32(7), 932-955. doi:10.1177/0192513X10396660

Nathanson, J. Z., & Marcenko, M. (1995). Young adolescents' adjustment to the experience of relocating overseas. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 19(3), 413-424.

Ostrander, D. L., Henry, C. S., & Hendrix, C. C. (1990). The stressors of clergy children inventory: reliability and validity. Psychological Reports, 67(3 Pt 1), 787-794. Retrieved from http://lynx.lib.usm.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cmedm&AN=2287672&site=ehost-live.

Proeschold-Bell, R., Miles, A., Toth, M., Adams, C., Smith, B. W., & Toole, D. (2013). Using effort-reward imbalance theory to understand high rates of depression and anxiety among clergy. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 34(6), 439-453. doi: 10.1007/s10935-013-0321-4.

Sedlacek, D. & Sedlacek, B. (2018) Cleansing the Sanctuary of the Heart: Tools for Emotional Healing (3rd Ed). San Diego, CA, Readers Magnet.

Strange, K. S., & Sheppard, L. A. (2001). Evaluations of clergy children versus non-clergy children: Does a negative stereotype exist?. Pastoral Psychology, 50(1), 53-60.

Wells, C. R. (2013). The effects of work-related and boundary-related stress on the emotional and physical health status of ordained clergy. Pastoral Psychology, 62(1), 101-114. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0455-y

Wilson, C. B. (2010). Understanding stress and the quality of life for adolescent children of clergy: A retrospective study (Order No. 3415253). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (734616213). Retrieved from http://lynx.lib.usm.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/734616213?accountid=13946

Wilson, C. B., & Darling, C. A. (2017). Understanding stress and life satisfaction for children of clergy: A retrospective study. Pastoral Psychology, 66(1), 129-142. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11089-016-0720-6

Yancey, G., & Garland, D. (2014). Christian congregations as contexts for social work. Social Work & Christianity, 41(4), 279-307. Retrieved from http://lynx.lib.usm.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=sih&AN=99622272&site=ehost-live

Yoon, S. (2011). Impact of marital satisfaction, self-esteem, attachment, job satisfaction and spiritual well-being on Korean American pastors and spouses in California. Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. Retrieved from http://lynx.lib.usm.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/888043487?accountid=13946